Rosa Maria Hernandez was already frightened when she sat in an ambulance Tuesday night speeding toward a Texas hospital so that she could undergo emergency gall bladder surgery, according to her family's attorney.
Rosamaria Hernandez, who is undocumented but has lived in the United States since she was three months old, and her cousin were confronted around 2 a.m. Tuesday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers.
Immigration advocates are protesting Rosa Maria Hernandez's case and say Border Patrol should show more discretion in the cases of sick children who are in the U.S. illegally, but need medical treatment.
Gonzalez said Rosa Maria has "difficulty understanding exactly what's taking place" and is closer in development to a child that's 4 or 5 years old. According to The Guardian, the ambulance was stopped at a Border Patrol checkpoint, during which agents discovered Hernandez, who was brought to the us from Mexico when she was 3 months old, was undocumented. It's especially true for immigrants like Rosa Maria, who live south of Border Patrol checkpoints, in the Rio Grande Valley, and must cross the checkpoints to visit a hospital farther north.
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"Their orders are to process her", said Leticia Gonzalez, who works with the girl's immigration lawyer Alex Galvez.
US Customs and Border Protection agents allowed Hernandez to go through the checkpoint with her cousin, a US citizen who was accompanying her, but followed the ambulance to Driscoll Children's Hospital. According to The New York Times, her cousin, Aurora Cantu, a USA citizen, rode in the ambulance with her. Agents first tried to get her family to sign a voluntary departure form so that she could seek treatment in Mexico, but they refused.
A Border Patrol spokesman said in a statement: "The Laredo Sector Border Patrol is committed to enforcing the immigration laws of this nation".
Hernandez was brought across the border illegally from Mexico when she was 3 months old.
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"I'm a mother. All I wanted was for her to get the surgery that she needed", Felipa de la Cruz, the girl's mother, told the Times.
"Due to the juvenile's medical condition, Border Patrol agents escorted her and her cousin to a Corpus Christi hospital where she could receive appropriate medical care".
"Per the immigration laws of the United States, once medically cleared she will be processed accordingly", the statement said.
From January through mid-March, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 21,362 immigrants, mostly convicted criminals, compared with 16,104 during the same period previous year, according to statistics requested by The Washington Post.
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Immigration arrests have climbed 40 percent as compared to the same time period a year ago under President Barack Obama's tenure, according to the U.S. However, she can not return to her parents according to the state laws. She was later released and a court granted a stay of deportation last month.